October 20 - 23, 2016:
The drive from Fort Sumner on route 20 south for about 50 miles was one of the most barren rides ever. It was all ranch land, cattle country, as far as the eye could see, except for one building still standing at the site of the ghost town of Dunlap, New Mexico. We then took route 285 south to Roswell, which seemed like a metropolis compared to the places we have been lately. In downtown Roswell, across from the UFO Museum, we take route 380 east to the Bottomless Lakes State Park. There are many open first come first served campsites with electric and water with picnic table and ramada, a dump station and decent working WiFi !
|All that's left of Dunlap, New Mexico|
|Roswell greeting tiles at Main Street park in Roswell|
Bottomless Lake State Park was the first New Mexico State Park build in 1933 by the CCC. It is very popular in the summer with a swimming and beach area. It has a observation Tower, now closed and a large picnic pavilion area.
|View of Lake Lea campground at Bottomless Lakes State Park from roadside overlook|
|Tiles of Bottomless Lake at Main Street park in Roswell|
|CCC built observation tower at campground|
|Beach area at Lea Lake|
|View of Lea lake from the back side|
The Bottomless Lakes are unique, we haven’t seen anything quite like this before. There are eight Lakes of various sizes which are not really Lakes, but sink holes called Cenotes with depths ranging from 30 feet to 90 feet. They have formed here in a line along a rocky escarpment composed of deposits of Limestone, Gypsum, Sandstone, Siltstone and Shale. Over the eons movement of underground water dissolved the Limestone forming underground caves and erosion from above weakened the cave roofs causing them to collapse. The resulting holes being lower than the water table filled with water from the underground aquifer. There are also vast flat salt flats in the valley areas, and seasonal wetlands, that are now protected as wildlife preserves.
|This one area of rocks was very colorful, I'm wondering|
if it had been spray painted
|The Limestone and Gypsum is weird stuff|
|A flooded salt flat area|
|The Lake water is a clear deep blue color|
|That reflects nicely|
|Much vegetation growing underwater|
|A tree cut at waters edge has turned white with a gypsum coating|
|These cliff edges are treacherous|
|Colorful rock layers |
The early cowboys who came here during the cattle drives on the nearby Goodnight-Loving Trail threw weighted ropes into the lakes trying to gauge their depth. As they couldn’t reach lake bottom with their ropes, they named them the “Bottomless Lakes” and the name stuck.
The city of Roswell is about 12 miles from the campground and the major attraction is the UFO Museum. I thought it provided a pretty good argument for some form of US government conspiracy to hide something. On the other hand, many of the actual UFO sightings and photos are pretty sketchy and hard to believe. Then again, the air force pilot and crew visual sightings while flying are hard to ignore.
|Do you believe ?|
|It appears the aliens have already been corrupted by humans ?|
|Big attraction in Roswell|
|Newspaper headlines were sensational|
|The spaceship has landed|
|A whole new movie industry developed as a result|
|I like the title |
Afterwards we stopped for lunch at the nearby Big D’s Downtown Dive which really is not a dive at all, just a catchy name for a restaurant. They do have a unique menu, the food is good and they are very popular. That's a working concept !
|The name is memorable|
Downtown Roswell doesn’t seem to have much going for it except for the UFO business. The rest of the town is mostly one long stretched out unattractive strip Mall. Exceptions are the huge New Mexico Military Institute and the beautiful old Court House. The tallest building in Roswell is a toss up between the Court House and this huge old grain storage tank. There are also two impressive statues of Sheriff Pat Garrett (the man who killed Billy the Kid) and John Chisum (Cattle king of the Pecos). It is strange how these two people figure into the legend of Billy the Kid.
|Welcome to Roswell display outside of town is really well done|
|It appears this old gas station has been saved|
|Building near the UFO Museum is decorated with several good murals|
|A jazz festival going on in front of the Court House|
|Another UFO attraction and souvenir shop|
|The old grain elevator with huge storage tank, that has great|
potential in the hands of a creative person, but most likely
will be torn down
|Statue of Pat Garrett at rear entrance to the Court House|
|Tree of Life sculpture at Roswell library|
|Another interesting UFO Mural in Roswell|
|Statue of Cattle baron John Chisum in park across from Court House|
|Fat's Burrito's Shop|
John Chisum did much to promote the cattle industry and the economy of the area, but he was one of the Cattle Barons and as such was an enemy of the dissident types like Billy the Kid who were causing trouble for him. This conflict between the cattle barons and the poor ranchers culminating in the Lincoln County War with Billy the Kid on the side of the poor ranchers. By some accounts, John Chisum motivated Pat Garrett to become a sheriff whose primary function was to get Billy the Kid and his associates, which he achieved.
We took a ride about 12 miles away to Dixon, New Mexico. It was much larger than expected although not much to see and do. The most interesting thing for me was this incredible auto junk yard just outside of town. Afterwards, we stop at a local favorite, the Cowboy Cafe, for breakfast which was a little too intimate for me, but the food was excellent.
|Old adobe Diamond Auto Parts building is covered in old hubcaps|
|In the yard are hundreds of rusty classics|
|The cowboy Cafe is another classic|
Next stop is Alamogordo, New Mexico,Twinkles and Slick